President Obama's College Costs Bus Tour

August 26, 2013

As part of his broader "Better Bargain" campaign, President Barack Obama participated in a 2-day bus tour of New York and Pennsylvania last week to highlight his proposals on college costs, affordability, and higher education reform. The key elements of President Obama's proposals include the following:

Paying for Performance

  • Tie financial aid to college performance, starting with publishing new college ratings before the 2015 school year.
  • Challenge states to fund public colleges based on performance.
  • Hold students and colleges receiving student aid responsible for making progress toward a degree.

Promoting Innovation and Competition

  • Challenge colleges to offer students a greater range of affordable, high-quality options than they do today.
  • Give consumers clear, transparent information on college performance to help them make the decisions that work best for their needs.
  • Encourage innovation by stripping away unnecessary regulations.

Ensuring That Student Debt Remains Affordable

  • Help ensure borrowers can afford their federal student loan debt by allowing all borrowers to cap their payments at 10% of their monthly income.
  • Reach out to struggling borrowers to ensure that they are aware of the flexible options available to help them repay their debt.


President Obama's bus tour provided him with an opportunity to publicize his higher education policies and priorities in order to demonstrate the importance of higher education as being a critical personal, professional, and economic investment in this country. In an effort to make higher education affordable, President Obama—along with congressional Republicans and Democrats—just finished addressing the potential doubling of interest rates for certain federal student loans. To that end, ASHA has submitted comments to the House Education and the Workforce Committee in response to their request for public comment on updating the federal Higher Education Act. 

Representative John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, released a brief press statement in response to some of President Obama's proposals, stating "While I am pleased the President's new plan recognizes the importance of promoting innovation and competition in higher education, I remain concerned that imposing an arbitrary college ranking system could curtail the very innovation we hope to encourage—and even lead to federal price controls." Chairman Kline's statement continues with, "As always, the devil is in the details, and I look forward to examining the president's proposal further as part of the committee's ongoing efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act and help improve college affordability and access."


President Obama's Better Bargain for Students Speech

White House Fact Sheet on the President's Plan to Make College More Affordable: A Better Bargain for the Middle Class

Kline Statement on Obama Proposal to Address College Costs

For more information, please contact Neil Snyder, ASHA's director of federal advocacy, by e-mail at

ASHA Corporate Partners